Free Press Journal

Judicary, Parl siblings, need for institutional dialogue: CJI


H L Dattu

New Delhi: Chief Justice of India H L Dattu today emphasised the need for continuous “institutional dialogue” and “coordinated effort” among legislature, executive and judiciary to resolve issues related to delivery of justice including the pendency of cases in courts.

Addressing a joint conference of Chief Justices of High Courts and Chief Ministers, Dattu also pitched for “financial autonomy” to judiciary in spending allocated funds and better pay packages for judicial officers to attract the best minds. “Judiciary and Parliament are siblings. Both are children of democracy,” he said and underscored that legislature, executive and judiciary have to work as “equal partners” in administration of justice and they should hold hands and correct each other.

“…The difficulty in finding agreement does not mean we would not discuss…. It is important that we are open to suggestions, open to think out of box,” Dattu said noting that the continuance of the “institutional dialogue” among the three pillars of the democracy is important. “Issues concerning administration of justice are so complex. They cannot be addressed by judiciary alone…. The executive also has a stake. Only a well-coordinated effort between the legislative, executive and the judiciary will achieve it.”

Noting that the issue of pendency of cases in courts, cannot be solved by the judiciary alone, the CJI said,”It requires efforts on multiple fronts and multiple agencies” including drastic change in administration of police and the work by the prosecution agencies apart from judicial reforms. Maintaining that the Supreme Court has taken a number of wide ranging measures to arrest pendency of cases, he said it has yielded results.

“In an effective democracy, the solution does not mean only the removal of problem…. We must be able to feel the pulse of the people,” he said. Modi’s remarks came close on the heels of an impeachment motion being moved in Parliament against a judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court for alleged sexual harassment of a woman judicial officer. Talking about the scrutiny that the government and political class faces, the Prime Minister said the Executive has set up institutions like Election Commission, RTI and Lokpal despite knowing that these would place a check on the Executive.

“Politicians are under increased scrutiny today. Earlier, items, which did not find a place even in gossip columns of newspapers, become breaking news today,” he said. He also favoured a comprehensive review of the system of government-appointed Tribunals to assess their efficacy and effectiveness. Committed to scrap obsolete Acts, Modi said laws are sometimes not drafted well and therefore lead to multiple interpretations. “There should be minimum grey areas, and therefore, drafting of laws requires special attention,” he said, adding that though no law an can have “zero defect”, the grey areas in legislations can be reduced.

Noting that nearly 1700 redundant laws have been identified for repeal, he said he hopes to repeal one redundant law per day in his tenure.
He said good infrastructure for the Judiciary was a priority for the government, and an amount of Rs 9749 crore had been earmarked for strengthening the Judiciary under the 14th Finance Commission.

He hoped that states would not divert the funds meant for improving judicial infrastructure given under the 14th Finance Commission. Under the Digital India Programme, technology should be deployed to bring about a qualitative change in the Judiciary, the Prime Minister said. He stressed that quality manpower was required for the Judiciary as he voiced concern about the Human Resource as also physical infrastructure. Modi stressed the need for more educational institutions dealing with law and legal services.

Without going into the details of pendency in litigation and corruption in the Judiciary, Modi hoped the conclave of judges would suggest some fresh approaches to deal with these issues. He said Lok Adalats were an effective way of dispensing justice for the common man, and this mechanism should be strengthened further. Laying stress on the importance of family courts, Modi said such institutions were necessary as families were fast breaking up and there was a need to check the trend.

He stressed the need for preparing for emerging areas of litigation such as maritime law and cyber crime. He said acquaintance with forensic science is now a must for those associated with the legal profession.